Life After LEGO Masters: Giving Back to the Community 

Today we feature a guest article from one of BrickNerd’s patrons Liz Puleo. She shares her experience visiting Boston Children’s Hospital and meeting the kids there who love LEGO.

The world of LEGO is ever-expanding. There are more possibilities every day that allow fans to interact with their favorite interlocking brick system and the famous builders that show us what they love. Some of the most popular ways are buying new sets and enjoying them at home, watching favorite streamers online, absorbing new techniques or community news via journals and magazines, or even visiting LEGOLAND properties and attending conventions. With all of the publicity and popularity of LEGO, one can get overwhelmed with possibilities for the future or the fear of missing out and overlooking what is happening in the here and now. 

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Like some others who have been absorbed deep into the LEGO community, I chose to take a step back after being on LEGO Masters. Returning to my family and job, LEGO became the background hobby that it once was before I was thrust into the national spotlight. While I still attend conventions and participate in various LUG activities, I’m no longer consumed with LEGO in all of my news feeds or obsessed with getting the newest sets every first of the month.

Truth be told, I’ve been hesitant to dive back into MOC building and displaying because of how life-consuming it all can get so quickly. But one of the few things that will sway me is giving back. I’m forever thankful for what the LEGO community has done for me and my family, and if there are ever ways to give back and show that gratitude, I’ll be there.

That is why when Corey Samuels reached out in September of 2023 about doing a possible display for Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), I jumped at the idea and was all in. What followed were many calls with all parties involved and adding in Russell from Little Bricks Charity. He helped organize the entire event with BCH, and Corey and I invited Erin Laundry and Christine (Tacos) Blandino to join us as they’re local LEGO Master family members as well. 

What started as an idea of doing a display set-up turned into a jam-packed day-long event of building with kids, hearing their stories, going on their in-house TV station, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. We started by each building a few mosaics and several sculpture displays that would be displayed in the hospital’s art wing for about six months as an exhibit.

The installation went effortlessly, and seeing the display case and all of the informational decals created was a tearful moment. BCH went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. There were large decals on the walls with our images and bios, along with an entire hallway leading the way to the display area. We all chose kid-friendly themes, and mine included Harry Potter, Minecraft, and Zelda, along with my “What the Shell” flower display.

Erin created an image from illustrator Mo Willems, Corey created the hospital’s logo and some Marvel creations, and Tacos made some based on anime and The LEGO Movie. Christina Godfrey, the art installation coordinator, did a phenomenal job of helping us frame our mosaics to make them kid-safe and set up the display case for maximum viewing.

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The day of the event was a whirlwind of activity. When we arrived at 8 am, Russell from Little Bricks Charity had matching jerseys made for us along with boxes and boxes of LEGO for us to build with, and more importantly, donate to the kids and families at the hospital. We set up in the area of our mosaics and had tables and chairs for the kids to come sit and build with us throughout the day. The event had been highly publicized throughout the hospital and it was a whirlwind of families and caretakers coming by and professing their love of LEGO and the show.

It was a humbling experience to say the least, I was not prepared to see so many children younger than my own dealing with such burdens. They were incredible, so strong, and unwavering. Hearing their stories and struggles brought me to tears on more than one occasion, but it was their positivity and incredible outlook that made my heart burst. To see a blind girl, who had brain surgery that week, sit in front of me and tell me how much she loved building with LEGO and telling stories with minifigures was astounding. I was so impressed and blown away by her tenacity for life.

There were families telling us how watching LEGO Masters and building with LEGO in their hospital rooms was one of the few normal kid activities they could do in such an environment. This was a shock to me, but it made total sense. All day, there are only so many shows to watch and games to play—building LEGO distracts them and lets them do what any other kid not battling an illness would do.

After taking a much-needed lunch break, we all were shuffled into Seacrest Studios for a Q&A session and later a creative building challenge. Erin had put together 50 building kits from her store (Bottomless Bricks) for the on-air building challenge. The kits included minifigures with wheelchairs, casts, and hair for any gender. Some kids came down to the studio to be with us, and others who were unable to leave their rooms participated by calling into the studio live to chat with us. One of our new visitors even had a LEGO backpack for all of his medication, which he was so excited to show us.

We had two sessions in Seacrest Studios broadcasting to the hospital and the kids who couldn’t leave their rooms, and they were an absolute blast! The kids who did come down to build with us were so comfortable in the TV environment and they truly ran the show.

Erin and I found a guitar signed by Ed Sheeran that said “Play Me” so of course we did and sang our favorite LEGO tune that we had written together during our LEGO Masters auditions. Once again, the creativity of the kids was jaw-dropping—not only did they all create action scenes, but they told tales of what their minifigures were doing as villains and heroes, with so much drama. A+, 10/10—they all won the challenges of course!

We ended our day by going out to dinner with the BCH crew and reflecting on how truly lucky we are to be part of something such as this. While I love conventions, LEGOLAND, and meeting fans of LEGO, giving back with my time and listening to the kids’ stories at BCH was humbling and profound. I truly feel lucky to have played any part in that day and hope to perhaps do so again in the future. The exhibit is currently still up, and we’re making plans to take it down in early June. In the meantime, I’m looking for other ways to give back and have plans to help out with some local after-school LEGO clubs.

How do you give back to your community? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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